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Life & Work with Aaron Drew Ford

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Drew Ford.

Hi Aaron Drew, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’m from the Inland Empire, Chino Hills, California to be exact. I have an older sister and a little brother. I have two wonderful parents that really did all they could do to support us. My father is a professional musician, he plays the bass guitar, hence kind of the reason I got into this music thing to begin with. My mother was a stay at home mom, and we were extremely blessed to have this type of household. Not many kids get to experience this, so I am so grateful that my dad was able to provide for us off of music so that my mother could take care of us.

At the age of four, I already knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Not many people ever get to discover their gifts or talents and I was fortunate enough to understand that playing drums is mine. As a kid, I would always attend my father’s gigs (when they were kid-friendly), well actually there were even times when I would be in bars at 14, 15 in the very back watching my father do his thing. When I was really young at his gigs I would always sit on my mother’s lap and grab two plastic straws and mimic everything the drummer was doing on stage. It’s actually kind of funny, a lot of people that would see me mimic the drummer would automatically assume that that was my dad. Little did they know the bass player was actually my father, my mom had to correct a few people at times, haha. I eventually graduated from playing straws to actually getting on a drum kit and applying what I learned. I never took drum lessons, I learned by just listening to the music and applying it to the kit everyday. I am extremely grateful that my parents never forced this or discouraged me, they cultivated it. Church was also a big part of my drum playing. Church allowed me to play every Sunday with adults and really learn how to play in front of an audience. This is why even today, I don’t ever get nervous because I have been playing in front of an audience all my life, it’s all I know really.

Eventually, I was able to graduate from playing at church with family and friends and I was able to meet other musicians my age. I always planned on going to La Verne University, but unfortunately with some setbacks with me having spinal fusion surgery straight out of high school, this put a pause on school. By the time I recovered from surgery it was already time for me to get a car and get a job so I could provide for myself. I ended up taking a job working at In-N-Out burger, and as time went on more and more I started to drift from playing the drums. As we can all relate to being young and finding friends and just kind of being young you know? I hope that makes sense, lol. But I just really had to experience being young and going out, drinking, meeting women and buying unnecessary clothes every weekend for each function. I used to regret this part of my life due to me putting a pause on my passion, but today I look back and it really only made me realize how much I love music and I could never leave it. My mother always said “God gives everyone a gift, if you don’t use it, he will take it away”. That always stuck with me in the back of my head so I knew me and music would reconnect again.

After this period of my life, I finally knew I wanted to get back to music full time but just didn’t know where to start. I didn’t have any friends that did music in my circle, in fact they used to make fun of me and not believe me when I said I can play the drums. At this time, I was working two jobs, I was doing accounts payable, and I worked the night shift at FedEx. I would clock out of one job and head right to the other. I hated working these jobs especially working at FedEx, but today I thank God for that job. This job allowed me to make my way back to music. I met a young kid there, he was about 17-18 years old, full of energy and really annoying, lol. His name is Jordan, Jordan had already been working there for some time so he knew he was around and everyone knew of him. He was kind of popular from my point of view. My first day Jordan came up to me and started a conversation, one of the first things he said to me was “hey do you play music”? I happily said yeah I play drums, in my head I could not even fathom how he knew to ask me this til today I still don’t get it but I’m forever grateful. After this Jordan and I began booking small rehearsal studio sessions, me on drums and him on piano, during these sessions I found out he is also an extremely talented singer too. He can actually play every instrument, something I admire about him. We began a close friendship, today we are more of brothers than friends actually. We also formed our own producer/singer duo called “12//12” also known as “twelve.12” and pronounced “twelve and twelve” lol. We had so many plans for doing our own album to being the next Chad and Pharrell, also known as the Neptunes. Unfortunately, Jordan and I never put out our own album but we did end up booking our first live gig for an artist name J RieLa.

I will forever be grateful for Jerrell, also known as J RieLa. He is not only an amazing artist but he has turned into my brother, he is forever family and I cherish this more than any music and show we will ever do. J RieLa gave me my first opportunity to be a drummer for an artist. At this time like I said before, I wasn’t playing drums nor playing for any artist nor did I have friends that did music. J RieLa wanted to improve his live shows so he was looking for a band. One of my old friends actually recommended me do him and he was more than happy to try it out. He asked if I wouldn’t mind auditioning first before making a real thing, I was more than happy and blessed to do this. I also was able to bring Jordan along and this probably helped me even more to book the gig. Jordan and I met J RieLa and his manager at a studio and tried out for them, let’s just say today we are still his band so you can kind of assume how this went. We would go on as J RieLa featuring twelve.12.

Most bands have a guitar player, bass player, drummer, and piano at the least. Well Jordan and I only had Jordan and I, lol. We were in deep search of a bass player and guitar player, mainly bassists due to the genres we played at the time R&B and Hip-Hop require a lot of bass. One day J RieLa’s manager was able to find a bass player by the name of Lucas Martinez, also known as “LZA” (Liz-Za) on Instagram. We finally found a bass player for twelve.12 and this really was the beginning of everything to come for Jordan’s and mine band. After many months Jordan and I were still on our mission to find our own shows and also producing our own music. One day we were finally able to book our own show and it was for one of our friend’s backyard party. Nothing big time, but nonetheless a great opportunity that turned out to be the next big step in our band. At this show, it was our three-piece band playing covers and setting the vibe for the party. During our performance a young college student was there watching us, he was with a friend of his. She told him that he should grab his guitar out of the car and join us since we still did not have a guitar player at this time. He was very reluctant at first but Jordan was very open to having him join us. I myself was not, today I look back and laugh because me and this young college student are now like best friends, heck, more like brothers actually. This person was Alberto Sparks iii, also known as “Beto”. Beto is an amazing artist/guitarist and also one half of a brother duo by the name of “Young Sparks” with his older brother and talented singer, Ricardo Sparks.

Just like that, I am now playing in a full band, something I never thought I would have of my own. I grew up seeing my dad just play for many artists, never himself having something of his own really, so playing for artist was all I knew, having a band was never on my radar. I couldn’t be more grateful to have this, something of my own, something we all own together and no one can take that away from us. We finally began playing for Beto and his brother (Young Sparks) and we would still go twelve.12 but that would quickly change. The name twelve.12 was really something for me and Jordan so the rest of the band couldn’t feel the name like we did. So one day during a Young Sparks Rehearsal, Ricardo’s boyfriend said we should be called “tonightournameis”. This name was not only brilliant but it was something I never heard before. It was sexy and appealing too, it described us in so many ways with using only one word. From there, our little two piece band was now a full-grown band with a whole new name. Tonightournameis changed my life, not only was it my own band but a band that turned into a brotherhood that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I was able to get so many opportunities with the band, met so many new faces, gained so much more work in the music industry. We slowly started to get a small buzz in the city of Los Angeles damn near doing our own small city tour at one point from the shows we would be getting. Today I am now blessed to be getting different calls from different artists without the band, just as a drummer. But I know that alot of that would not be possible if I never met my brothers in the band and I am forever grateful. I hope one day we can all come back together and get back to what we started, I know we can actually and I know we will.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not at all, things were really hard for me at one point. I was stuck between being a party animal that just works a 9-5 job or chase my dream and finish what I started. I was so caught up in the nightlife, meeting new girls, trying to impress everyone around me with the clothes and shoes I wore. Even my own father started to show less interest in my music career, this was probably the hardest pill for me to swallow. It still hurts today to be honest, he is showing more interest in me again but that feeling of seeing him kind of distant himself from me still hurts. I am a big believer in everyone’s journey is different. Not everyone will have a smooth path to finding their career and becoming successful in it. I accept everything I did in the past to get me where I am today. All those life experiences helped me realize that music is the love of my life and I will never let anyone come in between this. Having to work 9-5 jobs or even having two jobs while trying to pursue a music career has been another struggle. I am never one to make excuses but not being able to put your all into your art does hurt your chances of making it, but I will never let that stop me, and I know my day is coming to make music my full-time gig. I am grateful today to have an amazing job and coworkers that allow me to be a full-time musician basically. It’s amazing having support from people who have no gain in what you are doing, so shout out to them.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Right now, I am currently the drummer for my band “tonightournameis” and also some local artist in the Los Angeles area. I am very blessed to stay busy every week/weekend with getting gigs and calls. I can actually say this is something I am proud of myself for doing. Being able to get called to play drums for someone is such an honor and I appreciate every talented artist that has called me for my services. Being a drummer is such an important job, I am the one that is holding it down for the other musicians and artists on stage. I set the tempo, I set the vibe so my energy is so important. I used to think after shows not really getting much female attention that that meant my job wasn’t important or noticed. Boy was I wrong, I hear so many stories from friends today that how everyone at the shows are always talking about my performance and how I impressed them. Not that this is something I aim for, but this is now something I think about when I play on stage. I was also able to book my first TV gig this year. I was on the Hulu show “How I Met Your Father” playing as a drummer in a bar scene. This was amazing and I feel so blessed. I was able to work in a scene that had Hilary Duff in it, she even spoke a couple of kind words to me and complimented my drumming.

I also make playlists. As I stated, I love music and it’s my entire life. I always admired the art of being a DJ and creating a vibe, I just never had the guts or mindset to actually pursue it. Once again, God gives everyone a gift, and being a DJ was not mine sadly. But I was able to find something similar and that was making playlist. I love the art of making a playlist. One may say that this is not an art, or this is not a talent, but I would highly disagree. A good playlist sets the mood for someone’s drive home, study session, party, date night, and etc. I unfortunately was not able to tap into being an actual artist so I used playlist to express my feelings a lot of times. It’s funny, I actually use these to describe how I feel about certain women. Instead of talking about a heartache or about finding new love, I use playlist to describe them. Not every song is about them, but a lot of them are. I have about four playlists out on Apple and Spotify. The makeup of my playlist are “Late Nights”, so I have a “Late Night Drive” Vol. 1-3 and then I have a one off called “Late Nights With You”. By the time this interview drops my newest playlist “Late Nights Without You” will be available to stream and help create a vibe for your next late night drive, night alone, or even with a special someone. I love being able to put people on to new music, I guess you can say this is one of my love languages?

Something that sets me apart from other drummers is that I really love the music. A lot of drummers love the sound of themselves playing more than the actual band as a collective. I love the art of music, how it can control someone’s feelings, how certain lyrics hit people’s ears differently, how certain grooves make you dance, how certain melodies remind you of someone special in your life. I love being able to create an artist’s music from being played on headphones to a live entertainment setting. I also pride myself on just being a good person in the music industry. A lot of people in this industry don’t care about you and have no good intentions for you. I will always have the same energy whether I get a call from the biggest artist in the game playing on the biggest stage or from an up and coming artist who needs a drummer for their first live show. I will always be humbled and appreciative of every call I get.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
To me, success is defined by what makes you happy. In this day of Instagram and other social media platforms, we get caught up in needing to have the right car, house, shoes, toxic relationships and etc to say we are now “successful” but this is just not true. Finding and doing the career you have always dreamed of and it makes you happy. Having a family around that supports you. Finding that special someone that supports everything you do in life and is not only your lover but your best friend. All those things to me is what success is. These are all the things that I finally feel like I am moving towards and I’m feeling more successful today than I ever have.


  • Solo booking starts at- $150
  • Band booking starts at- $400 a hour
  • Studio tracking sessions- $100 a hour

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Image Credits:

Tyler Perez Joseph Calvillo

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